The Udder Side of the Story

  • by: |
  • 12/20/2007
The Baltimore Sun reports that, “A long-running clash over the marketing of meat and milk from cloned animals is coming to a head in Washington as the government prepares to make a ruling that would allow the products to be sold to consumers for the first time.

Critics in Congress, including Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland, are attempting to delay the action expected from the Food and Drug Administration, which could decide as early as this week to permit sales. These opponents are rushing to gain approval by Congress this week of a provision that would encourage the FDA to delay action until further studies are completed.”

Here’s the complete story:,0,6919236.story

According to the FDA, the agency has "studies that show that the meat and milk from cattle clones and their offspring are as safe as that from conventionally bred animals." In other words –GRAS.

Does this mean cloned beef in your burger? No. At tens of thousands of dollars per “founder” clone this is hardly likely (at least in the foreseeable future). So, unless you’re in the market for a $25,000 Big Mac, relax.

You want fries with that?

In the future, if and when the technology for animal cloning becomes more cost-efficient, it is possible that the meat of clone progeny could be available at retail. And milk from clones is certainly on the way a lot sooner.

By promulgating this new rule, FDA is working to advance the science of cloning -- an important advance towards creating a better, safer 21st century food supply.

Dairy producers are worried about what might happen if "clone-free" products start showing up in supermarkets. "We have concerns where people are going to try to draw distinctions and differences where none exist," said Chris Galen, spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation.

It's a contentious topic – but the fact is that the agency has been studying this issue in great detail for a very long period of time. In fact, many of the world's leading experts on this issue work at the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. During my tenure at the FDA (which ended in 2004), this issue was already being deeply investigated and intensely debated. So, when people accuse the agency' of reaching a decision without either due regulatory process or focus on science, I say, where's the beef?

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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